Education News

School District failed to look @ alt-fuel initiative

March 26, 2012

The Escambia County school district rejected the city’s request for it to begin a conversion to natural gas powered buses—something the Leon County system has already successfully done, saving millions. The district’s transportation director found the new-fangled idea too new and, of course, Superintendent Malcolm Thomas agreed.

Thomas, his staff and the school board completely ignored the rising diesel fuel prices and the national move towards alternative fuels.

On March 12, President Obama announced his proposals for both natural gas & electric vehicles

Launching a “Race to the Top” challenge for communities to encourage advanced vehicle adoption:

The President is announcing a new $1 billion National Community Deployment Challenge to catalyze up to 10 to 15 model communities to invest in the necessary infrastructure, remove the regulatory barriers, and create the local incentives to support deployment of advanced vehicles at critical mass. This proposal embraces a strategy similar to that outlined by Senators Merkley and Alexander in their Promoting Electric Vehicles legislation.

This proposal, however, would be ‘fuel neutral’, allowing communities to determine if electrification, natural gas, or other alternative fuels would be the best fit. Deployment Communities would serve as real-world laboratories, leveraging limited federal resources to develop different models to deploy advanced vehicles at scale. The program would also support the development of up to 5 regional Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) corridors where alternative fuel trucks can transport goods without using a drop of oil.

Making advanced vehicles more affordable: The President proposes to improve the current tax credit for electric vehicles by

o Expanding eligibility for the credit to a broader range of advanced vehicle technologies;

o Increasing the amount from $7,500, making it scalable up to $10,000;

o Reforming the credit to make it available at the point-of-sale by making it transferable to the dealer or financier, allowing consumers to benefit when they purchase a vehicle rather than when they file their taxes; and

o Removing the cap on the number of vehicles per manufacturer eligible for the credit and, instead, ramping down and eventually eliminating the credit at the end of the decade.

Accelerating deployment of alternative-fuel trucks:

The President is proposing a new tax incentive for commercial trucks that provides a credit for 50% of the incremental cost of a dedicated alternative-fuel truck, including trucks powered by natural gas or electricity, for a five-year period. This incentive – paired with support through programs like the Energy Department’s National Clean Fleets Partnership, which provides technical assistance to large company fleets interested in moving toward vehicles that rely on little or no oil.

Launching ‘EV Everywhere’, a clean energy grand challenge to make electric-powered vehicles as affordable and convenient as gasoline-powered vehicles for the average American family within a decade:

This national effort is the second in a series of Clean Energy Grand Challenges designed by the Department of Energy to bring together America’s best and brightest scientists, engineers, and businesses to work together to solve the most pressing energy technology challenges of our time. EV Everywhere will enable companies in the U.S. to produce electric vehicles at lower cost, with an improved vehicle range and an increased fast-charging ability, so average American families will be able to own and drive an electric vehicle as affordable and convenient as today’s gasoline-powered vehicles.

The savings from using lower-cost electricity instead of gasoline, roughly $100 per month for the average driver, combined with the reduction of upfront vehicle cost, will lower energy costs for American consumers and businesses. The President’s FY13 Budget includes $650 million to advance vehicle and battery technologies at the Energy Department, including investments that support this new grand challenge. EV Everywhere will invest in breakthrough R&D for advanced batteries, electric drivetrain technologies, lightweight vehicle structures, and fast charging technology.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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  • North Escambia Resident March 26, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    The transportation director takes his advice from the garage manager who use to work for the State Transportation Dept. in Tallahassee and he doesn’t like the Natural Gas buses. Instead of doing the research himself. Our Superintendent should look into it also. Why take only one persons opinion.

  • Concern Citizen March 26, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    The school district is stuck in the past. The transportation department can’t get out of the old school way of thinking. The will not try any new technology like synthetic oils, more fuel efficiency buses (Thomas built buses) fuel additives. just nothing. Seems to be a trend, getting all these college minds to figure out how to mess something up. The bus cost mention in one of the other comments is wrong and to high. If something make any sense, forget about this district doing it. They are to busy building schools in the middle of no where. The district is relying on old test done in the state years ago to make their decision. Like I said stuck in the old rut.

  • jeeperman March 26, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    “The district’s transportation director found the new-fangled idea too new and, of course, Superintendent Malcolm Thomas agreed.”
    That was the stated reason? really?.
    Natural gas as a engine fuel is old technology, nothing new, just traditionally not practical for a mobile engine.

    I told ya Thomas would not go in on the deal with the City and ECUA.
    If it ain’t his idea, he is not gonna do it.

    • Rick Outzen March 26, 2012 at 1:56 pm

      You called it, jeeperman.

  • Ames March 26, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    But Rick, Obama is a black man.

  • Bruno March 26, 2012 at 10:13 am

    Leon County received a huge amount of stimulus money from the federal government for their program. Escambia County Schools aren’t able to get that money right now and the district is barely scraping by. Natural gas buses cost about $165,000 (diesel buses cost about $135,000), they’re bigger than needed and the costs of driving them to one of the three fueling stations the city is building, which aren’t finished yet, is also a factor. CNG buses also have to be refueled more often. Where is the district supposed to get the money to make the change?

    • Rick Outzen March 26, 2012 at 10:21 am

      Who says Escambia County can’t get grants for the conversion? There are funds still out there for this. The City offered to build the fueling stations at no cost to the district and might have helped with the conversion costs, too. The district said no with very little real research. They refused to even negotiate with the City. Where there is a will, there is a way. The district has no such will.